Commencement Speeches to the Class of 2013

Speeches from the 135th Commencement

Champlain College, May 4, 2013

BOARD OF TRUSTEE WELCOME & INVOCATION by Board Chair Laura Dagan:Laura Dagan On behalf of the Champlain College Board of Trustees, it is my honor and pleasure to welcome each of you to the 135th Commencement of Champlain College.

Champlain College is a place of contrasts. While our founding in 1878 places us among the more venerable institutions of higher learning in America, we don't carry the burden of bureaucracy that can impede institutions that have been in existence for well over a century.

Champlain has nurtured its ability to adapt quickly to market forces, and to institute new programs that will provide our students with the most relevant education. While we are rightly proud of this, we remain mindful that pride in our accomplishments is best tempered by nurturing the agility, creativity, discipline and willingness to change that has enabled us to adapt with such success in our first 135 years.

That spirit of innovation and optimism links the College both to its origins and to its future. It will guide us as we look to new challenges that will best position our graduates to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the marketplace. Today, we will present honorary degrees to two outstanding individuals whose contributions through public service and writing make them particularly deserving of recognition.

We take great pride in watching you, the members of the Class of 2013, become graduates. We extend to each of you our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous future. Let us take a moment to give thanks for the blessings of this day as we gather here for Champlain College's 135th commencement to celebrate and acknowledge our students' accomplishments.

We give thanks to all those who have supported the members of the graduating class of 2013 and sacrificed for them on their journey here. Let us all heed the experience of those who came before us, that we may be the wiser from what they have learned. May we offer a helping hand, a kind word of advice and a moment of peace to those who follow us. We ask for the patience and guidance to step humbly and respectfully in the world. In the years ahead, we ask that our actions be tempered with grace, wisdom and forethought as we strive to make our world a better place. Amen.


Alumni Speaker, David W. Winslow, Jr. Class of 2000Alumni Speaker

You are ready. I stand before you today as a proud Champlain College graduate —and I can tell I was ready because of the education I received at Champlain. So rather than bore you with my life story and pontificate too much on the distant past, I would rather showcase just the past year and why you are ready to embark on any adventure put in front of you. Before I start, I wanted to give an energetic round of applause for President David Finney, who in a few short years has elevated Champlain College to unforeseen levels and given all of us not only immense value for our investment into the College, but hope that we can achieve whatever we set out to accomplish. I'm honored to speak at the one of the final graduations before David embarks on yet another adventure. Thank you President Finney for all you've done.

Opportunity. A year ago the company I work for, Dealer.com based here in Burlington, was given an opportunity to evolve our relationship with an iconic American brand to drive a new era of success in selling their product to American consumers - this brand is Chrysler. With short notice and big expectations, I led a team that delivered advertising campaigns for hundreds of their dealerships across the country and participated in a period of record sales growth for Chrysler. Today I work at the center of one our largest industries —Automotive, in a field with unprecedented potential —Digital Advertising. I've accomplished this through hard work and perseverance —and an education from Champlain College.

You are ready for opportunities such as this. Adventure. Immediately following the above opportunity, I packed my family up for a trip to Spain where I would instruct a Masters course in Digital Marketing in the heart of Madrid. Before we could start our journey, a decision needed to be made. My 3-year old daughter woke up in the middle of the night and discovered she was getting ill, as well as my wife! We did make the decision to start our descent to New York City and board the flight to Barcelona. After a successful flight, a journey throughout Spain and instructing students from over 20 different nationalities at an international business school, another chapter was written —for my family and for me. My kids were world travelers at just one and three, and I was an international professor of a Masters program, without a Masters degree of my own! I accomplished this with an education from Champlain College. You are ready for adventures such as this.

Change. Less than month from our return, we were packing for yet another journey — a move from Burlington to Los Angeles to advance my career and give my family an ocean of fun to explore. I spent over a decade in Burlington — it is where I launched my career, built numerous companies, discovered the love of my life and brought two beautiful kids into the world within our own home. My family's willingness to explore and adapt to change, gave us this new chapter in life that brought us from mountains and farms to beaches and bustling freeways. My degree from Champlain followed me on this new journey. You are ready for changes such as this.

Perseverance. Lastly, after 50+ trips and 100k miles of travel in the past year, I embarked on my most challenging trip to date. Over a week ago, I departed Los Angeles for a 15-hour journey to Sydney Australia where I led meetings with Google and global automotive brands. Just two days ago I arrived back in LA, spent the day with my family at the beach and boarded a flight to Boston (where I had just been 2 weeks prior during the tragic unfolding of events). After arriving in Boston at 6am I drove to work in Burlington at Dealer.com, and then somehow showed up today to share my story with you.

All that with a Champlain College Degree. Take every experience you've ever had at Champlain College, embed it into your every day life and take it with you no matter where you go. What you learned at Champlain and what you experienced in Vermont will be intrinsically within you and give you a foundation like no other. You are ready for all the adventures life puts in front of you. You are ready to be a leader, a visionary and a contributor to your community. You are ready for a career, not just a job. You are ready for life.

Let us not forget most importantly the people who got us to where we are today —your family. Your parents, your brothers and sisters, your mentors and your closest friends. Today my parents and brother stand in the audience to support me over a decade after I graduated from Champlain College. They were my main support then and remain so today. Mom, Dad and Rob, thank you and I love you. And remember this, today you carry with you another family -one that has prepared you for the world ahead and one that will always be there just as your family was to get you to this point. You are part of the Champlain family.

Eat Well.

Live Life.

Love Unconditionally.

Thank you.


Nicholas R. Pugliese representing the graduating class of 2013

Senior Class SpeakerChamplain College Class of 2013, we made it. Can you believe it? It's been a long four years, for some of you, five, even six, but we're not judging, and now that journey is at an end. One door is closing while another, more daunting door, opens. The fear of uncertainty is one that we all are affected by, but if our education at Champlain has given us anything, it is the tools to meet this uncertainty head on. George R. R. Martin wrote "a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it means to keep its edge." If there's one thing I have learned over my time here, it is to stay on the cutting edge. Champlain has always been on the cutting edge of new technologies, keeping us ahead of the curve and always having the tools of our trades readily available. We are truly given all the tools that we need to succeed in any area that we have chosen to study, and not many other schools can say that with as much confidence we do.

So what good is a graduation speech without a little motivation! I am going to tell you the secret of making any goal, whether big or small, possible. How many times have you heard someone tell you "Follow your dreams" or "If you set a goal for yourself, you can achieve it?" There is some truth to these statements, but what no one tells you is how! No one ever tells you how to reach these goals or how to take the first step.

But before I tell you this secret, I want to preface it with a story. One about how I came to this point and how I learned about tangible goal setting. My mother has been and continues to be the most amazing person in this world. I say this because growing up, I didn't have a typical childhood. When I was four, my father passed away from a sudden heart event. Just like that, everything changed. She was left alone to raise my brother and I all by herself. My dad always surrounded himself with good people. We were lucky enough to have his best friend, John, come into the picture for us, and be a father figure. A few years down the road, John turned to Dad, and became our father for real. Between the both of them, I have had the best upbringing possible.

Both of them are always keeping the memory of my late father alive. Whether it is through stories, pictures, or memories, his spirit is still lives on.

Recently, my mother gave me a book titled "Pick Four: Zig Ziglars Legendary Goal Program." With this, was a note attached that said "Nick, your dad was very big on making goals for himself. I thought you might like this and give it a shot. You never know! Love mom" So I figure, why not?! I have nothing to lose. This book is the secret to making any goal possible, and here is how.

Step One, Brainstorm. Make a list of any dream you might have. Big or small, real or fake, get it all out there. This brainstorming of goals helps put into perspective what you want to accomplish in both the short and long term.

Step Two, Think. Think on each of these dreams or goals and react to them. What would happen if this actually came true? If you can't write about why you want to reach this goal, cross it off. After narrowing down your list, narrow it down some more.

Step Three, Pick four. Pick four goals you would like to pursue. Take these four ideas and expand on them. Think about how you and the people you care about most can benefit from this goal. Get it all out, because now starts the real fun.

Step Four, Just do it! Every day, only on business days, for three months, try to do something related to each of your four goals. Whenever you complete something related to one of your goals, write it down and keep a log of all things associated to your goals. At the end of each day, reflect upon what you did and write whether it was helpful in reaching your goal.

After the first week you start to learn what works after reflecting on all of your activities. A few weeks later, you fall into a routine, and before you know it, the goals you've set for yourself become involuntary and you are leaps and bounds from where you started. At the end of the program, you have reached your goals and now they have changed to accomplishments. These accomplishments act as the fuel to setting more goals and having the confidence to make things work. I have participated in this goal program, and look where it got me! (gestures to self) Any goal we set for ourselves is possible, all we need to know is how to take that first step.

My time at Champlain has been the best four years that I could have asked for. I've met incredible people and have made connections that I truly believe won't end in a few hours when we all say goodbye. These are truly memories I will not forget. Before I go, I would like to leave with a quote from The Doctor, "If it's time to go, remember what you're leaving. Remember the best. My friends have always been the best of me." Champlain College class of 2013. Good luck and thank you.


Since 1878, Champlain College has provided career-focused education to students from its hilltop campus in Burlington, Vt. Champlain's distinctive educational approach embodies the notion that true learning only occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain offers traditional undergraduate and online undergraduate courses, along with online certificate and degree programs and 11 master's degree programs. Champlain offers study abroad programs at its campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 378 Colleges: 2014 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2014 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu


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